By: Shelley Irwin
Congratulations – you’ve signed up to experience the thrill of a triathlon. Race day can be quite the adrenaline rush, testing an athlete’s talents in three consecutive sports. But here’s a tip: For the best overall experience, your triathlon training needs to include both fitness AND race day readiness.
Here are 5 steps to prepare for your big day and complete your triathlon with ease:
- Register for your RACE
Commit to participating by keeping yourself accountable. Signing up and paying for the race will help with that. Next, tell your family, friends, and everyone who will keep you accountable of your good news. They will support not only your actual race, but your training schedule as well. You’ve made a commitment to reach a goal and get healthy along the way – don’t look back!
- Map your PLAN
What is the plan to get you to your goal? Training for a triathlon, whether your first or your last, isn’t for the procrastinator. With your race date nailed down, and a calendar in hand, it’s time to work backward from that date and see how many weeks you have to train for the race. Plan out your training schedule and then stick to it. There are great online sources to help you decide your training distances and daily workouts such as Beginner Triathlete, USA Triathlon, or Hal Higdon. You can also find local coaches if you want help defining your workout regime and more one-on-one training.
- Gather your GEAR
Triathletes spend money on what’s needed for race day. Ideally, it’s best not to cut corners when planning for the gear you will wear when competing in your triathlon. Starting with the swim, you will most likely need a wetsuit, preferably a tri suit, and a pair of goggles. Next – do your homework to find the best two-wheel bike choice for yourself, and don’t forget the helmet, water bottle, and bike shoes. As for running gear, you’ll want appropriate running shoes and perhaps a race belt to make your transitions smooth. And as part of your gear, make sure you stock up on the appropriate nutrition to use during training and race days.
- Rehearse your DAY
Practice makes perfect, or at least steers you in the right direction to do your best. Your training will include brick workouts, where your body experiences the transitions from a swim to a bike, a bike to a run. You will also need to practice your fuel replacement. Can you tolerate the choice of energy sources like Gu, energy blocks, or even energy jelly beans? Go forth and experience! Train in every piece of gear you will be using and yes, that includes your socks! Never enter race day with a new pair of goggles or racing shoes. You must also make time for mental preparation. Picture your transitions from the swim to bike. Rehearse in your mind how you’ll transition from your bike to the run. Lastly, don’t forget that on race day. Note the entrances and exits in and out of the transition zone. Getting confused during the race will only cost you time.
- Pack your BAGS and Go to SLEEP!
You’ve done your best in the physical and mental preparation for race day, so now it is time to sleep! A good night’s rest is key to keeping you as calm as possible as you head out in the wee hours of the morning to accomplish your triathlon goal. Make a list of all of your last minute morning duties. Pack your gear the night before according to your checklist. Not sure what should be on the checklist? I’ve added one here for you. Now, set two alarms and go to bed at your best convenience. And, make sure you check that you have plenty of gas in your car, that’s the last thing you want to worry about when you head out to compete in your triathlon.
Race day is quite the adventure. Congratulations on your journey.
About the Author: Shelley Irwin is an award winning radio announcer at WGVU Morning Show. In 2008, She received her fifth consecutive Gracie Allen Award from American Women in TV and Radio for excellence as a program host. Shelley also is an amatuer athlete currently representing Team Priority Health in runs, triathlons and bike races.